ï¿¼I 'm not good with numbers. Do I have to file a tax return myself?
A: If you earn over $6000, you need to lodge a tax return. If you don't, you could be losing out on thousands of dollars in unclaimed refunds. Don't worry if you're scared of numbers. Getting a good accountant or tax agent to lodge your claim on your behalf can not only avoid the headache, it usually saves you money as they know how to complete the forms. Best of all, their services are tax deductible, so you can claim back some of the cost at the end of the next financial year.
Do you need to keep every receipt in order to make a tax claim?
A: The Australian Taxation Office follows a strict motto of, 'No receipt, no deduction'. I'd recommend you have a system in place to store your receipts. An Excel spreadsheet can be a great way to record expenses. The good news is, if your total claim is less than $300 you don't need the receipt as proof, but you must still be able to show how you worked out your claim.
ï¿¼I don't earn a lot of money. Are there any tips I should know?
A: Yes! If your income is under $31,920 and you contribute $1000 after tax into your super, the government will match it dollar for dollar. I'm shocked each year when I hear how few people actually take advantage of this offer - after all, it's free cash! Also, if you earn less than $10,800 your spouse can put up to $3000 into your super fund and they will receive an 18 per cent return ($540) on tax via the spouse super contribution rebate. From the 2012-13 tax year, the tax-free threshold will rise to $18,200, freeing up to one million low-income earners from having to do a tax return at all.
ï¿¼As a working mum I struggle with the cost of putting my kids in child care. Is there any relief for us?
A: Thankfully there is. If your child is in a day care service
registered with the government and you receive the Child Care Benefit, you're eligible for the Child Care Rebate. It's a 50 per cent return of up to $7500 per child, per year, which is based on the difference between the CCB payment and the final cost of sending your child to an approved child care centre.
ï¿¼I've heard people who use their car for work purposes can claim tax deductions. Can you explain how?
A: It's relatively simple. If you use your car for work, you need to keep a log book of how often you use it for at least 12 continuous weeks of the year. This is enough proof for you to claim for deductions. The money back for this could be in the thousands! Make sure you keep a record of all costs associated with the running of your car too - such as insurance, registration, lease payments, petrol and servicing. Keep these records for the whole year. But remember, you can't generally claim for your daily commute to and from home to your usual place of work.
ï¿¼I've had a major operation this year that cost several thousand dollars. I had a rebate from Medicare. Am I eligible for any other help?
A: There is a medical expenses tax offset, and this covers the gap between your Medicare refund and expenses you paid in relation to an illness or operation. These can include payments to doctors, nurses, dentists and opticians as well as many other costs associated with your overall treatment. The rebate is 20 per cent of medical expenses over $2000, however the rebate doesn't cover your ambulance costs, or cosmetic surgery, funerals, private health care, and non- prescription medication like over-the-counter painkillers.
If you do just one thing
Know your deadlines. You have until October 31 to lodge your claim yourself. If you use a registered tax agent, you can file your claim later.
For more helpful tips, check out Adrian Raftery's book, 101 Ways to Save Money on Your Tax - Legally! It is available from www.wiley.com. $24.95. Like tax agents, it's tax deductible.